Eugenia Floyd was named 2021 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year today at a luncheon at the Umstead Hotel in Cary. She is a teacher at Mary Scroggs Elementary School in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
“I need to let everyone know across the state that we are so ready to support the students of North Carolina,” she said of herself and her fellow nominees.
The state has recognized “Teachers of the Year” since 1970, according to a press release from the state Department of Public Instruction. Floyd was one of nine regional teachers of the year, all of whom were in contention for the North Carolina Teacher of the Year title.
Here are the other regional teachers of the year:
- Northeast: Jennifer Attkisson, White Oak Elementary, Edenton-Chowan Schools
- Southeast: Jennifer Bryan, South Brunswick High School, Brunswick County Schools
- Sandhills: Nicole Rivers, Gray’s Creek High School, Cumberland County Schools
- Piedmont Triad: Kelly Poquette, E.M. Yoder Elementary, Alamance-Burlington School System
- Southwest: Cecelia Sizoo-Roberson, Piedmont IB Middle School, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
- Northwest: Erin Ellington, Mabel School, Watauga County Schools
- West: Susanna Cerrato, Ira B. Jones Elementary, Asheville City Schools
- Charter schools: Jeremy White, West Lake Preparatory Academy
According to a press release from the state Department of Public Instruction, Floyd was a student in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district and then started as a teacher assistant before becoming a teacher eight years ago.
She said in a press release that she faced low expectations from her teachers and now tries to make sure she models different behavior to her own students.
“As a teacher, I strive to make sure my behavior and academic expectations are high for my students,” Floyd said in her Teacher of the Year submission, according to the press release. “I am a true believer that students will do what you expect them to do.”
She also talked about the importance of equity in the press release:
“Often in this work we forget to look in the one place that has the most impact,” Floyd said. “Ourselves.” She continued, “A teacher can read books and go to as many equity trainings as possible, but nothing will change in their interactions with children if they never acknowledge their own racial bias.”
Speaking before the announcement, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said that today was especially important in the context of COVID-19 and the resulting struggles of the last year.
“Many teachers had no roadmap, no past experience, no preparation on how to navigate this,” she said, adding that teachers still managed to find new ways to engage and educate students, even when they couldn’t actually see them in person.
Truitt also had a message for all of the North Carolina Teacher of the Year candidates. “Each one of you should be proud of leading your profession, engaging your students, and never giving up on what we know is a true calling,” she said.
She also discussed last year’s teacher of the year, Maureen Stover.
“You are a role model for us all,” Truitt said, mentioning later that Stover is also a finalist for the 2021 National Teacher of the Year award.
Stover also said a few words, including that being named Teacher of the Year isn’t about winning. She said that the process brings together a group of advocates for all teachers and students, representing eight regions of North Carolina as well as the state’s charter schools.
“It also means that we have multiple viewpoints, multiple perspectives, and multiple ideas,” she said, adding later: “When I need to understand something that’s happening in the western part of the state, I don’t understand that living in the sandhills.”
Floyd will travel the state as an ambassador for teachers and will serve as an advisor on the State Board of Education for two years.
She will also receive, according to a press release, “the use during her or his period of service a new vehicle, leased from Flow Automotive, LLC, the opportunity to attend a seminar at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a mobile device from Lenovo valued at approximately $1,600, an engraved vase, a one-time cash award of $7,500, a trip to the National Teacher of the Year Conference and International Space Camp, a prize pack and opportunity to be honored during a football game from NC State Athletics, support from No Kid Hungry NC, a one-time cash award of $1,000 from Bojangles and the opportunity to travel abroad through an endowment sponsored by Go Global NC.”